Minister hoses down logging fears
ENVIRONMENT Minister Stephen Dawson last week faced questions in Parliament about new procedures which a senior bureaucrat warned could wind back the protection of old growth forest.
However, Mr Dawson said there had been no change in the definition of old growth used to assess the Barrabup block near Nannup.
“The definition of old growth forest has not changed and is consistent with the National Forest Policy 1992 definition,” he said via a spokeswoman.
However, Greens South West MLC Diane Evers, in Parliament on October 10, asked him whether procedures introduced in March made it more difficult for forest to qualify as old growth.
Mr Dawson said new Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions procedures included a two-step survey with an initial threshold of six stumps or fewer over 2ha.
The department procedures “identify similar or more old growth forest” than the previous Conservation and Parks Commission rules, he said.
But emails tabled in Parliament from Conservation and Parks Commission director Roland Mau detail concerns that the procedures could have the opposite effect. “Using the proposed stump parameters and boundary rulesets as outlined in the draft procedure may lead to old growth forest areas becoming available for logging,” he wrote.
Conservationists raised concerns about how Barrabup data was collected and the department’s independence, saying the previous old growth threshold figure was five or fewer stumps per hectare. “The DBCA criteria for identifying, assessing and demarcating old growth jarrah forest is a clear deviation from the Conservation and Parks Commission’s methodology,” WA Forest Alliance spokeswoman Jess Beckerling said on Monday.
She called for a retraction and review of the department’s procedures and clarification of the commission’s relationship with the department.